Even though there’s no sign of the Funkasaurus, Alberto Del Rio is still sans working groin, and Chris Jericho has more or less been mailing it in the past month, I remain ecstatic for a WrestleMania 28 card where wrestling fans of several generations will come for the glitz and glamor of guys like The Rock and The Undertaker, but stay for the new wrestling crop.
I’ll be honest–I don’t have many of these matches pegged, a fact that I always love because it usually means we are in for a wild ride. While some are easier to predict and less significant than others, this card is top to bottom the best I’ve seen since I started watching WWE again. And yeah, I’m including the Divas tag match. Maria Menounos is pretty attractive, guys.
John Cena vs. The Rock
Usually there is a stipulation attached to the main attraction, like “for bragging rights and such,” but this epic showdown boils to one of the last Attitude Era stalwarts trying to edge out the company’s current poster child. A lot of people like to break down the promos each ran, and if we do that, I’m calling Cena the winner on that front. The Rock’s timely delivery and hilarious alarm clock littering were few and far between, buried under retreads about pie, lady parts, and turning balls sideways.
[adinserter block=”2″]John Cena, on the other hand, really switched it up and finally admitted that his character in this long soap opera is “wrestler.” If you haven’t come to accept this and still roll your eyes whenever Cena’s talking, I just don’t know what to tell you. A win here would confirm Cena’s place as the WWE’s ace and the buffer to make sure he drags some of those midcard guys up to his level in the next few years.
This is what should happen, but what if The Rock scores a win, clean or interrupted? I mean, it could happen, but what do they have to gain by seeing a guy who never wrestles punk their prized commodity? I think that’s the draw here; we haven’t seen The Rock and Cena interact physically all that much, giving us the feel of an old school match where we have to pay to see the fight instead of having the first four acts play out on USA cable every Monday.
I feel pretty confident that John Cena will win clean over The Rock on Sunday. In addition, the Miami crowd should probably be treated to Rock accepting Cena as “the guy” and offering a handshake to end the night. What I can’t account for is some sort of run-in or event to springboard us to whatever Cena’s next adventure would be, but I just can’t imagine Cena being laid out two Manias in a row.
CM Punk (Champion) vs. Chris Jericho – WWE Title
Was Rock understudying at Jericho’s school of regurgitation this Winter or what? Those family attack Titantron promos got really old fast, leaving me to wonder if the writers had anything of value for him to do after he won that predictable No. 1 Contender’s Battle Royal.
I really want to get behind this being a match with a solid build up, but Jericho’s been all over the place while Punk has seemingly worked out his “racist, balls-in-purse” kinks and taken back his spot as the must see guy on the show. But seriously, how has whatever Jericho done justify him as a threat? He came out to a vow of silence for a month, wore a funny jacket, and eventually became an afterthought among the other main events at Mania. While this still stands to be an excellent in ring match, it’s the fourth best draw on this card.
It’s all good to Y2J, though; he’s getting paid and will be out of wrestling by June. This is my lock of the night as Punk will win in what I’m going out on the limb and saying it’ll the first match of the four main events. Goodbye, Chris, and good riddance.
Daniel Bryan (Champion) vs. Sheamus – World Heavyweight Title
Only one time since the brand split have both the WWE and Heavyweight title holders retained their titles at Wrestlemania, and it was last year. So is there a chance that the faces dominate this event or will Daniel Bryan continue his reign of self preaching and chauvinistic tendencies?
When it comes to the actual wrestling and story potential, this is my go to match, and not just because of AJ. I wasn’t really on board with Bryan when he turned, but over the last month his shtick has become so over the top and subtlety demeaning that he’s really grown on me. I still think the guy throws way too many kicks, but that’s beside the point. Sheamus is great for all the right reasons, and Bryan is now great for the reasons to have every good guy punch his face in.
While everything leading up to and including the match should be gold, this one reeks of a messy finish, whether it involves AJ, Lord Tensai, or some other force at play. These two have a good thing going and I can see this as a stepping stone in a very long rivalry. I’m saying Sheamus wins by DQ and Bryan sneaks away with at least the belt. The girl, though? That’s a rocky situation.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in a Cell w/ Shawn Michaels as guest referee
When you think Hell in a Cell, who is the first guy you picture? The Undertaker, right? Well, turns out Taker has a losing record in the event, going a mere 5-6 since it’s inception in 1997.
I’m not entirely sure that I need to see a rematch of these two from last year, but for story’s sake it’s pretty important. Taker won by a hair last year and only Triple H got up after the match and, y’know, stayed active with the company. We haven’t seen The Undertaker wrestle since, so it begs the question, how much does Taker have left and will this be it?
Bigger than Taker, Triple H, and guest lackey Shawn Michaels is clearly the streak. It’s kind of evolved into it’s own Wrestlemania draw and brings in the older fans, who can go back as far the early 90’s to remember The Undertaker as a force to be reckoned with. If you do believe Taker has a couple more victory laps left in him, you’re probably taking him to push his record to 20-0. However, all indications are that this is his last stand and I think the perfect twist here would be a finish that mimics last year’s, but with HHH overcoming the conditions and finally handing Taker his first loss at Mania. As a fan, I could go either way, but I live by the mantra “nothing gold can stay.” It’s the end of an era, you guys.
Cody Rhodes (Champion) vs. The Big Show – Intercontinental Title
So, in my best Chris Berman voice, “evvvvveryone’s on The Big Show, huh?” I’d love to jump on that train and just accept that Rhodes will get his just desserts, but sometimes I get the feeling the writers just like to mess with us and switch up the ending to prove us all wrong. It’s weird to think this is for the title–I can’t remember a time where the title has actually been overshadowed by the story swirling around it. This has been abetted by Rhodes basically treating the gold like an NFL franchise tag and it never being defended, which I’m okay with. With two headlining titles being contested, the IC belt serves as good promise to a bright young star while also holding the lineage of a belt that matters.
This mid card match should serve it’s purpose, with the ending going one of two ways. Either Show gets a ton of offense in early before succumbing to a Disaster Kick at around the six minute mark and loses, or he just loses his marbles after a while and destroys Cody while getting disqualified. I would prefer the latter, because you get to see Cody getting mauled while also keeping his belt. However, I’m actually calling for the clean, fluke finish and win by Cody, with shenanigans later. Show doesn’t actually care about the IC belt, and not just because it doesn’t fit him.
Team Johnny (David Otunga, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz, and Drew McIntyre) vs. Team Teddy (Santino Marella, Zack Ryder, R Truth, Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, and Booker T)
We all should know the stipulation by now: either John Laurinaitis or Teddy Long will have GM control of both shows based of the result of this match, so there’s actually a decent amount riding on this match chock full of mid cards. Logic would dictate that Johnny wins because he has been at it for only months while Teddy Long has seemingly GM’ed in some fashion or another since he left Harlem Heat and it’s probably a good idea for him to move on.
Also, until Christian bowed out and Alberto Del Rio never was announced as a team member (as teased by that photo op at the last PPV), Team Johnny blew the Teddy scrubs out of the water. Seriously, I think the writers had to put a jobber like McIntyre on the team to tease that someone could easily take the pin and give Teddy’s fans hope that he could win.
That won’t happen. I’m not sure how they will get there, but I’m pretty sure it’ll crescendo with an epic World’s Strongest Slam or Zig Zag on an unsuspecting, hopping Kofi. Thanks for trying, but Big Johnny is just way too entertaining to lose.
Randy Orton vs. Kane
Randy Orton has absolutely been killing Kane lately, who hasn’t looked like much of a threat past big booting Epico and fire burning Zack Ryder into a broken back and a fractured relationship. I really enjoy the time Kane’s taken into reinventing himself and a just reward here would be to upend Randy Orton, who really doesn’t have much to lose in dropping an undercard match here. He’d be losing to a guy who controls fire and killed The Undertaker twice I think. No shame in that. Kane wins.
Maria Menounos and Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve
[adinserter block=”1″]This isn’t close to the draw that Snooki was last year but it still has some neat working parts. Remember when Kelly Kelly and Eve were best buds, then Eve got a job promotion, forcing Kelly to start hanging out with Alicia Fox (a move I’m rating between downgrade and push)? Well, later, Eve would turn into a “hoeski” and silently curse Kelly’s name. Meanwhile, Beth Phoenix is still the Divas Champion, Natalya seems to gotten lost on her way to FCW and Maria Menounos is thrown in for being famous for Dancing With The Stars and Mario Lopez. Caught up?
Don’t underestimate this one to be a “bathroom break” match. Kelly’s been getting better in the ring, while Beth Phoenix can run the point for the bulk of it while Maria picks her spots. I’ve seen her in a couple of those Troops specials and she’s actually not bad in the ring. Look for Kelly to hit a finisher on Eve and let Maria have the pin for Team Celeb/Smile and Point.
Joe Leininger lives in Jacksonville, FL via the greater Philadelphia area. He dabbles in all things sports, pro wrestling, and television, and more of his work can be found at The Playing Field Blog and DestiGeddon.